Postseason for everyone!
We’re down to only a few possible scenarios for how this thing plays out. Let’s put on our committee hats, shall we? Bear with me as we take a deep dive into the various contenders’ resume data. I promise it will all make sense in the end. (Note: In all scenarios below, I’m assuming Alabama will be No. 1 regardless of Saturday’s Florida outcome.)
Really good work from Stewart Mandel on this one (I can't believe I just typed that.)
The SEC released a flow chart on Monday to address multiple scenarios, and show how each team will be placed into specific bowl games.
Also good work from the league office (I can't believe I just typed that either.) Interestingly, Mississippi State at 5-7 is eligible for a bowl based on APR. Given their hot performance down the stretch (pasting Ole Miss and pantsing A&M,) they're getting an invite.
This is supposed to be hard, isn't it? After all, it is the postseason of America's second-biggest sport. And what makes this sport so unique, what separates it from the NFL, is a level of passion and a degree of difficulty that exist nowhere else. As such, is expanding the College Football Playoff field, a move that would inarguably pave an easier road to a postseason berth, going to stoke those fires? Not a chance. It would sprinkle water on them. --- "We've got guys on our staff that have experienced the NFL playoffs and now have experienced the College Football Playoff," Saban said one year ago as Alabama prepared to play Michigan State in the semifinals. "There's room to maneuver in the NFL. Not here. I think that's a good thing."
Here, here. Four is enough; probably perfect, if we're going to have a playoff. There aren't eight teams worth of winning (or even playing for) a national title. March Madness is fun and all, but bloated tournaments aren't the best way to crown a champion, particularly when the data set is an N of 12 or 13 games comprised of only two dozen viable entrants.
"I don’t know. If we don’t win this game, maybe throw a stink bomb, maybe we don’t get in the playoffs. I don’t know. You guys have all the answers to that, but I don’t. All I know is if we play and play well, we control our own destiny in terms of what we do. So I’d really rather not have any more questions about, ‘Is it OK to lose this game?’ It’s never OK to lose a game."
It's never okay to lose a game. Particularly if that game is to Ole Miss, the lowkey worst winners in the SEC. But, if Alabama is going to drop one, I'd much rather it be during the regular season. As bad as those losses hurt, 2014's ghastly second half against Ohio State still haunts me.
For Alabama, the health of the team has only become a concern recently. The Tide secondary already lost Eddie Jackson after a season-ending leg injury in late October and on Saturday, had to turn to former walk-on Levi Wallace after star defensive back Marlon Humphrey left the Iron Bowl with a leg injury. "We're probably gonna take it easy with him for today or at least a little while," Saban said of Humphrey on Monday, via 247Sports. "We'll see how it goes, but we're hopeful that he'll be able to practice some later in the week and be OK for the game."
Humphrey is probably going to play on one leg this weekend. Wallace has played in 8 games this season, and held up pretty well when pressed into action Saturday, but I don't think you want to go into the SECCG down (arguably) your best corner (You can argue that Averett has actually been the most consistent, better guy on the outside. And I'd agree with you.)
Florida, meanwhile, is a dumpster fire of injuries -- seven starters and counting, all in various states of healing...as if this weren't going to be one-sided enough.
LSU stays, well, LSU
Cross one top objective off new LSU coach Ed Orgeron's list: Dave Aranda has agreed to stay with the Tigers. After earning a Broyles Award nomination in his first season as the Tigers' defensive coordinator, Aranda has accepted a new three-year contract offer from Orgeron, a source told ESPN.
He can't particularly recruit at an elite level, but he can coach his ass off. The vaunted Tiger defense just made sure it stays elite for the next few years (barring next year's deep rebuild, that is to say.)
Fat guy touchdowns!
This year, we’re asking you, the fans, to participate in that selection, by picking the five plays you think are most deserving of the award. We’ll use your collective vote along with those of our esteemed panel of big man play experts and announce the finalists later this week.
Go vote for five of your favorite "linemen with the ball" plays. Alabama has three entries (Allen, Allen, and Payne.)
Coaching kudos and carousels
Jeremy Pruitt made the final cut of five for the Broyles Award, as announced Monday. The former Crimson Tide player rose from a staff position to a defensive backs coach before leaving for the Florida State defensive coordinator job in 2013. He moved on to Georgia in 2015 before coming back to Tuscaloosa when Kirby Smart left. The Tide defense is No. 1 in total yardage allowed, rushing yardage and scoring. It went four games in the month of November without allowing a touchdown.
Also, no one has a rushing touchdown on Alabama since Oct. 15. Pruitt deserves to win this award in a landslide. Don Brown, Michigan's DC, probably will however.
Speaking of overlooking the obvious:
...agreeing that Alabama possesses the best team in America has its pitfalls. Because in doing so, we’ve overlooked the job Nick Saban has done in Tuscaloosa this season. Just watch what happens next. Saban won’t win SEC Coach of the Year honors in unanimous fashion, as he should. And nationally, he’ll probably see someone like Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre or Washington’s Chris Petersen win the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award. Once again, we’re going to take Saban for granted.
Once again. The odds favor Alabama running the table this year, and despite overcoming transfers, injuries, starting a freshman QB, and completely revamping the offense, he won't get the consideration he deserves.
It's a good fit, Coach Kiffin, but...
Here are 6 factors to keep in mind for Houston: 1. This job is better than some Power 5 jobs. From money to facilities to recruiting area to administrative support, this is arguably the best Group of 5 job out there. Not getting into the Big 12 was a blow, but even sitting Power 5 head coaches like Sonny Dykes or Dana Holgorsen reportedly could take a look at this job.
Houston is a lot better of a gig than a bottom tier P5 program. However, Major Applewhite, Houston's OC, seems to be leading the pack at the moment. And, I don't see Lane heading to FAU, Nevada, Purdue, San Jose State or other present openings. Still, if the offer comes, I think it's a great fit for Dreamy Lane Kiffin, and I suspect he'd take it.
There is Oregon, however.
Oregon might not be that far away, but it’s got big fixes to make. Whether Helfrich manages to stay in his job or not, Oregon has to figure out how to stop teams from shredding it on defense. Merely having an okay defense can work if Herbert turns out to be great and Oregon can return to the 45-point-per-game wonderland it used to inhabit. Otherwise, the defense has to be legitimately good.
These were basically the points I made Saturday morning. Oregon is a slowly-devolving mess. Talent is slipping, defense is a wreck, there's no QB on the roster, the Ducks' archrival is ascendant and in the playoff hunt, USC looks to be getting back to form. This doesn't seem to be the job to take if you're trying to reestablish yourself in the coaching ranks. Let UCF's Scott Frost go home if it comes to that. And, hey, there's the simple matter that Helfrich still has a job.
What in the hell, Clemson?
"I was made aware of that. Obviously everyone is talking about it. That's a shame," Swinney said when asked about the allegations Sunday. "Absolutely, I asked my guys about that. To a man, absolutely false. I believe my guys. I know the character of our team and that's really all there is to say about it." South Carolina linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams told the Post and Courier, "They called one of our defensive linemen, they used the N-word. An offensive lineman, I don't know his number." Receiver Terry Googer also tweeted about it following the game.
You have multiple Carolina players calling out some alleged Clemson shitbag for dropping racial epithets (in a game the Tigers were dominating.) Dabo just tells us he knows his players' hearts and makes an ironclad guarantee it did not happen. His absolute certainty, when he has no way of really knowing, tells me something happened, although maybe not exactly this. But, tou can't make the guarantee he does based on bare, nebulous assertions of character or honesty.
When was the last time you saw something like this happen, despite the bad blood in the SEC? I honestly don't recall, and I am child-frighteningly old.